Myanmar’s government has announced a compulsory military service for all young men and women as the country continues to face unrest. However, in recent months, the military has been defeated in a series of battles with ethnic militias and anti-coup fighters. The move, announced on Saturday, will require all men aged 18-35 and women aged 18-27 to serve at least two years under military command.
Myanmar’s defense ministry will “promulgate the necessary bylaws, procedures, announcement orders, notices and instructions” to implement the conscription law. The army has faced a series of humiliating defeats in recent months. In late 2020, three ethnic rebel armies in Shan State seized border crossings and routes that carry most of the land trade with China.
Myanmar’s military-appointed president, Myint Swe – a former general – has previously warned that the country is at risk of falling apart if the government cannot bring the fighting under control. A law allowing conscription was introduced in Myanmar in 2010 but has so far not been implemented. According to the law, the terms of service can be extended up to five years during a state of emergency. Those who ignore the summons to serve may instead be jailed for the same period.
A state of emergency was declared by Myanmar’s junta in 2021 and recently extended for another six months. The country endured nearly 50 years of rule under repressive military regimes before moving towards democracy in 2011. On February 1st, 2021, the military announced it had taken control of the country. Since then, riots and fighting have plagued Myanmar with more than a million people displaced and thousands killed